SPAWNING

2023 FORT PECK

Final update

Photo:  Longtime volunteer Roy Arves with a beauty of a walleye. Thanks for your assistance over the years!

Photo:  Tommy Gonzales with a dandy female walleye.

Photo:  Kyn Beery with one of the MANY walleye he netted from the trap nets. Great job!

Photo:  Lonny Jensen with a good-sized female walleye.

Photo:  Fish culturist, Matt Baxter stripping eggs from a ripe female walleye.

Wow… The walleye trap netting and egg collection effort has been fast and furious on Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures are around 52-55 degrees throughout our trap netting locations in the upper portion of the Big Dry Arm and the walleye have been in spawning mode.

These stable water temperatures have continued to result in a large numbers of ripe female walleye releasing their eggs. We’ve managed to capture 117 ripe female walleye from our trap nets on the last day while checking our trap nets. Numbers of spent female walleye captured are continuing to increase indicating the season could be winding down.

Because of the continued numbers of ripe female walleye being collected, we were able to hold one last spawn of the season. This egg-take resulted in 17 million more eggs from 112 females which should give us a total of approximately 67 million eggs for the year. These eggs will eventually turn into fry and fingerlings needed for stocking requests for the 2023 season. The number of eggs collected this year would be considered average, but it was done in a very short timeframe compared to most years.

On behalf of the fisheries and hatchery staff at Fort Peck, I’d like to say THANK YOU to all the volunteers who contributed to a very successful season. I would also like to thank the volunteers for their patience and understanding who couldn’t assist with this year’s effort. We will be in contact for next year’s efforts and hopefully you’ll be able to make it. Best of luck to everyone this summer wherever you decide to wet a line!

May 2nd

The walleye trap netting and egg collection effort is in full swing in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir! Water surface temperatures have bumped up slightly to around 50-53 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. These are still VERY favorable temperatures for walleye spawning activity.

These warm and stable water temperatures have continued to push the walleye up shallow and into our trap nets. Once again, a large portion of the females we’ve been capturing have been ripe and releasing their eggs. In fact, we’ve been able to bring in over 100 ripe female walleye each day over the last two days. However, we have observed  a few more spent female walleye over the last couple of days as well. It’s likely this will be a very short and condensed walleye spawning season based on the large numbers of walleye we’re seeing all at once.

On Monday, we collected a little over 18 million eggs from 112 ripe female walleye. We also had another egg collection today (Tuesday) from 114 females which should give us close to another 15 million more eggs. These three egg collection efforts should put us a little over 50 million walleye eggs total thus far for the 2023 season. This has been an amazing amount of eggs collected in a very short period of time and quite unexpected considering the later than normal start.

Stay tuned for more updates!

April 30th

After several weeks of anxiously waiting for the ice to recede, the walleye trap netting and egg collection efforts are underway on Fort Peck Reservoir. It’s been a busy and surprisingly productive past two days even though this is the latest start on record for this effort. We did some searching in a few shallow areas of the upper Big Dry Arm for trap net locations and were able to locate 49 to 52 degrees which are near ideal spawning temperatures for walleye.

These favorable water temperatures have led to some very productive trap nets. We’ve come across walleye in different phases of spawning activity, but a large portion of them have been good-sized female walleye ready to release their eggs. In fact, some of the better trap nets have been collecting over 20 ripe (releasing eggs) female walleye along with good numbers of male walleye. We have also noticed a few spent (released eggs) female walleye, but that was to be expected since it’s the end of April. Walleye spawning activity would typically be winding down as we approached the month of May on a “normal” year.

Warm water temperatures and the high abundance of ripe female walleye have allowed us to hold our first egg-take of the season. And it was a big one. Approximately 17 million eggs were collected from 105 female walleye today (Sunday). Thank goodness we’re on the board for the 2023 season! I suspect the next couple days could be similar based on water temperatures and spawning condition of the walleye we’re capturing. Stay tuned for more updates.

Heath Headley

Fisheries Biologist

Fisheries Division

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Region 6


                                                  

Walleye Calendar

  1. Dave Sedlock

    Canyon Ferry: Action was a bit slow over the weekend. Rainbows and walleye are being caught out from the Silos…